Tuesday, March 22, 2016

"So What About Ghosts?"

For those of you unfamiliar with our ministry at the Salvation Army, it goes something like this. There is an inside eating area, and an outside eating area.  We hand them their food and while they eat, we preach to them. Some made it a point early on to go outside to get away from the preaching, and once we realized that, we stationed a man outside.  You may say that's harsh, that we are 'jamming it down  their throats', but I drive 30 miles one way to hand them a free meal, so it's not unreasonable that they listen, or at least endure.  There are plenty of places serving free food in Brunswick Ga on Friday nights that don't preach.  Besides, I think General Booth would approve.
  So on a typical Friday night after making sure everything was going well inside I took my usual position outside. I am the resident Preacher to the Hostile, and so I put my shoulder up against the brick wall and faced a scattering of people who for the most part don't want to hear me. I announced to the crowd that it was Friday night, and they  knew what that meant. I told them I was going to  ask the blessing on the food and then show them something out of the Bible.
  Seated almost directly in front of me , with her back to me, was a blond lady whom I later learned was named Laura. She spun around and said "Tell us about ghosts, man!" I told her I would be preaching the gospel to her. She said "No, man. I want to hear about ghosts." I assured her that, if she stuck around, when I was done, we would talk about ghosts.
  "You promise?"
  "I promise."
  She sat back down and I turned to Isaiah 53.  Several times during the next  5 or 10 minutes she leapt to her feet and would interrupt me to  ask me if I was almost done because she really wanted to hear about ghosts. When I either ignored her or told her to be patient, she would sit back down and begin talking to her friends.
  When I was finished she looked back at and dismissed her friends, sending one hopeful suitor to the  store to buy cigarettes. He was reluctant to leave, and she  fired a well-aimed salvo of obscenities at him and he wandered off muttering. She rolled her eyes at turned to me.
  "So what about ghosts?"
  "What about them?"
  She looked around to make sure she couldn't be overheard. "I've seen stuff."
 I shrugged. "Sure. So what?"
  She began to tear up a bit. She told me her husband had passed away recently and since his passing she had been plagued by a dark malevolent force of some kind.  She claimed she heard  voices late at night.
 "Ok. I believe you. So what?"
  "So what?"
  "Look, did you listen to anything I said during the preaching?"
  She looked  down a bit and said "No, not really.  But I'm just scared."
  "Scared of what?"
  "What's on the other side."
  "And yet you ignored the preaching." I asked her if she knew for sure that her sins were forgiven.  She went through the usual dodges ( nobody can know, I'm not that bad, we're all sinners) and I showed her from the scriptures how her sins were damning her and that if she expected to get past the judgement of God, she needed to exercise repentance towards God and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
  "Yeah, but what about ghosts? I mean, is my husband haunting me?"
  "Was your husband in the habit of scaring you when he was alive?"
  "Then why assume that what you're  hearing is him?"
  Now it was her turn to shrug.
  "Ok, you want an answer, Laura? Here's what I tell everybody. Just because it says its your  grandfather doesn't mean it's your grandfather.  What you're probably dealing with is some sort of unclean spirit dedicated to keeping you distracted so that you ignore the gospel."
  " I don't want to hear that."
  "I appreciate that, but you asked me, I didn't ask you."
  We revisited the sin issue, but she wasn't interested. I talked to her about what Jesus Christ had done for her, but she kept wondering aloud where that guy was with her cigarettes, even adding "That #@$^@# had better not run off with my money.". I  pointed her to  scriptures about the judgment of God on her life, and how imperative it was that she avail herself of the only escape ; Jesus Christ.  we looked at Luke 16 and I showed her that here were only two destinations and you don't get the option to 'stick around' and haunt your loved ones.  By now she wouldn't even look at me.
  "Look, I appreciate you talking to me, and I'm sorry if I've been rude, but...I'm done" She got up to leave and told me she would maybe see me next week.  She said she knew thee was a verse in the Bible that said you cant know about  the afterlife, and she would show it to me when she found it.
  See, friends, this is what it is like to labor in the ministry.  We look men and women in the face and talk to them about their souls, and for the most part, their hearts have been so hardened and their eyes so darkened by sin that it is like talking to a brick wall. We plead, we reason, and for the most part, we see little of what  mot people would call 'results' or 'fruit'. We see people who have heard some variation of the gospel all their lives get up and wander off dead in trespasses and sins, the wrath of God still squarely on their shoulders.
  It's not glorious work, but at the same time, it IS glorious work. It is exciting work, it is challenging work, it is heart-rending work, often all at once.  It is  the greatest endeavor in which a man or woman can spend their days, and it never grows old.  If you are saved and you aren't doing the work, what's wrong with you?

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